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Old 29th May 2008, 20:46
John Beaman John Beaman is offline
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Marseille photo

The Ed West posting that showed what appeared to be Hans Marseille getting into an F-4 with a SKZ has generated some interest from myself and Rabe Anton as you might imagine. I decided to start a new thread.

Let’s start with the assumption that in fact the figure in the “new Marseille photo” is Hptm. u. Stkp. Hans-Joachim Marseille. While there is no concrete proof of identity, the facial features and physique of the pilot match Marseille. So too does the sunglasses, rolled up sleeves, and wheel cap “get-up,” along with the Ritterkreuz with supplementary decorations hanging at the neck. The pilot’s dress point indisputably to a warm environment, meaning that the photo must have been made sometime during the summer of 1942.
As to the airplane it the photo, it appears very probable that it is Bf 109F-4/Tp. WNr. 8673, Marseille’s last and most famous Friedrich. It is known that Marseille usually flew the WNr. 8673 as ge. 14 + after returning from leave in the third week of August 1942, but up until now nothing has been known—or seen—of it before its arrival in North Africa. The evidence for the earliest known view of WNr. 8673 is as follows:
• The airplane in the "new Marseille photo" is in fact a repaired or refinished Bf 109F-4/Tp. No upper/lower surface color dividing line can be seen, and it seems much more likely that the peculiar form of the "K" was applied at a repair facility rather than at a factory assembly line.
• The airplane in the photo shows the large sooty exhaust staining that characterized WNr. 8673.
• It is known that Bf 109F-4/Tp. WNr. 8645 was T J + I Y.
IF 8646 was T J + I Z, and IF the following SKZ block comprised a full 26 letters, then the next block would have begun with 8673. Thus, 8673's SKZ very likely ended in an “A.” In fact, this does agree with the SKZ in the “new Marseille photo,” which is - - + K A.
• IF the sequence beginning with 8673 did in fact begin with - - + K A (and, admittedly, a few "short" SKZ blocks in series production did not begin with "A"), then what were the first two letters of the Stammkennzeichen?
• In the caption to a photo in II./JG 27, p. 220, top, Jochen Prien, Peter Rodeike, and Gerhard Stemmer indicate that the SKZ for Bf 109F-4/Tp. WNr. 8687 began with S L + .
• Various other sources in Prien/Rodeike/Stemmer volumes show that S L + K U and
S L + K Z were Bf 109F-4/Tp. also sent to the Mediterranean Theatre. The writer does not, unfortunately, have direct and indisputable Werknummer correlations for these two machines, but if Prien/Rodeike/Stemmer are correct, their Werknummern would have been 8693 and 8698. The writer also knows of no SKZ blocks for Bf 109F-4/Tp. other than S L + K – fitting the theatre, time period, and other circumstances.
• Taking all of the above evidence into account, it seems virtually certain that the –– + K A in the “new Marseille photo” was WNr. 8673, that its SKZ was S L + K A, and that it is the earliest known image of that famous fighter while assigned to Marseille.

Look for this a/c's place in the history of Marseille's machines in our book recently published by Air Power Editions.
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